Evdochia Tătaru

* 1926  

  • "(…)First we made a hut in the ground, until we finished the whole building. R: But until you made the hut, where did you stay? Did you sleep under the open sky? I: Under the open sky. It was blazing hot from the sun, because there was a drought and it hadn’t rained at all. We were under the open sky and you couldn’t sleep… R: And you were there like that in the open for many days? I: Yes, like that. And after we saw that the sun was too hot, there weren’t any trees or shade, you had nowhere to shelter, and we also had a child, we made a hut in the ground. And then, after we made one, everybody did the same. In the earth it was cooler, but you couldn’t really sleep. Because you were afraid, you said to yourself it might rain overnight or something… We made a hut in the earth and we sheltered in it until we finished the house. First we made bricks for the public buildings. They finished the police station, they made us a dispensary because pregnant women didn’t have anywhere to go, you weren’t allowed to go anywhere except there. They brought doctors… They made everything available. They forced us to make all that, from mud bricks, up until September, and in October we started making bricks for the house…"

  • "And we didn’t have any water, and until they made us a well they brought water from the Danube in a cistern. And all day long we had to collect water from a cistern. There were perhaps more than two thousand families in the village. And when it was very hot, we didn’t have anywhere to get water from. We queued with bottles, whatever we had, and got water from that cistern. We kept the water until the next day when the cistern arrived again. And if we wanted to wash, we went to the Danube. We took our clothes and the children’s and put them in a sack on our back and went to the Danube. And we washed them there, because the water was warm from the sun. And we washed them and came back with them, because we didn’t have anywhere to hang them out."

  • "We always had to start all over again. When we left everything behind (in Timișoara, Săcălaz commune) and went to Bărăgan, we didn’t have anything, nothing at all. We didn’t have anything because we left it all behind: we didn’t have plates to eat from, a cup to drink water from, nothing. And when we came here (Pipera), we took with us what we had. And even here it wasn’t easy, especially as we had to set up house again. By then we were broken with toil, by the land we had to work there."

  • "All the streets and all the yards were full of soldiers. There was no police, no anything, just the army. And when they turned up at our door and they said: “Give us your papers, get dressed immediately, and to the wagons!” we were frightened, because if you don’t know anything, and all of a sudden… The others looked in the wardrobe for the papers. It depended on the army how they were. There were lads who let some take a kilo of flour, something to eat, but they didn’t even let us take a loaf of bread with us, let alone a kilo of flour or anything else. Nothing, nothing. They kept a watch on us. One dropped his gun and it went off in the house and it gave us a fright. We got dressed and they took us away… R: You can’t remember them giving you any reason, telling you why they were taking you there? I: No, no. We didn’t know anything. R: You didn’t know where you were going? I: No. We didn’t know anything, because… We didn’t know anything, not even where we were going. We met our neighbours outside, they were all in the street."

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    Pipera-Voluntari, judeţul Ilfov, 25.04.2005

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    duration: 01:00:45
    media recorded in project Iron Curtain Stories
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We always had to start all over again

Born 1 March 1926, Tighina, Bessarabia. Five months after her birth, Evdochia Tătaru’s family moved to Bulgaria, settling in Turtukaya, Durostor County (in 1913, after the Second Balkan War, Turtukaya had been awarded to Romania). After the cession of the Quadrilateral (southern Dobrudja) to Bulgaria in 1940, Evdochia Tătaru and her parents and five brothers left Turtukaya, settling in Frecăței village, Tulcea County. In 1946 she married Filip Tătaru and the couple moved to Săcălaz commune, Timiș County. Five years after their arrival in the Banat, during which time the Tătaru family managed to establish their own farm, on the night of 17-18 June 1951, Evdochia Tătaru, Filip Tătaru and their four-year-old son were taken from their home and deported (along with forty-four thousand people from within a twenty-five km radius of Romania’s border with Yugoslavia) to Bărăgan, an arid steppe in south-eastern Romania. On the day of their deportation, the Tătaru family and five to six other families were loaded onto a cattle truck, and approximately a week later, during which they lived in terror of the thought that they were being transported to Siberia, given that they were told absolutely nothing of their destination, they were dumped in the commune of Zagna-Vădeni in Brăila County. There they were only allowed to leave the area, fifteen kilometres in radius, with the permission of the authorities (the eighteen newly established settlements for deportees functioned in a way similar to a concentration camp). On arriving in Bărăgan, the Tătaru family and the other families of deportees received a plot of land, marked by a stake inscribed with a number, whose earth they had to turn over and on which they had to build themselves a house. For the first few days they slept under the open sky, and later, to shelter from the burning sun, they dug a hut in the ground. A short while after their arrival in Bărăgan, they began to make mud bricks. First of all they used the bricks to construct public buildings, and it was not until October of 1951 that they were able to use them to build their own houses. For the Tătaru family, the same as for all the others, the five years they spent as deportees were a struggle for survival, given the restrictions and shortages (confinement to a fifteen-kilometre radius, shortages of food and water, lack of medical care, etc.), but nonetheless Evdochia Tătaru gave birth to another four children. In 1956, the restrictions on their movements were lifted, but as Evdochia Tătaru’s family had nowhere to go back to, they decided to remain in the house they had struggled to build after their arrival in Bărăgan. But in 1962 the authorities decided to erase all traces of the deportations. The Tătaru family and all the other families that had remained in Bărăgan were evacuated from their homes once more. Shortly thereafter, the houses the deportees had built were demolished and the land was ploughed up. After leaving Bărăgan, the Tătaru family managed to buy a plot of land in Pipera, a commune near Bucharest, where they were forced to begin their lives all over again. After 1990, the Tătaru family tried to take back the goods that had been confiscated in 1951, when they were deported. They got back only 5 hectares of land, but the house and the land on which was built it hadn’t been recovered.